Virology (Advanced) (VIRO3901)


This unit is available to students who have performed well in Intermediate Microbiology and is based on VIRO3001 with additional lectures related to the research interests in the Discipline. Consequently, the unit of study content may change from year to year. Viruses are some of the simplest biological machinery known yet they are also the etiological agents for some of the most important human diseases. New technologies that have revolutionised the discovery of viruses are also revealing a hitherto unappreciated abundance and diversity in the ecosphere, and a wider role in human health and disease. Developing new gene technologies have enabled the use of viruses as therapeutic agents, in novle vaccine approaches, gene delivery and in the treatment of cancer. This unit of study is designed to introduce students who have a basic understanding of molecular biology to the rapidly evolving field of virology. Viral infection in plant and animal cells and bacteria is covered by an examination of virus structure, genomes, gene expression and replication. Building upon these foundations, this unit progresses to examine host-virus interactions, pathogenesis, cell injury, the immune response and the prevention and control of infection and outbreaks. The structure and replication of sub-viral agents: viroids and prions, and their role in disease are also covered. The practical component provides hands-on experience in current diagnostic and research techniques such as molecular biology, cell culture, serological techniques, immunofluroescence and immunoblot analyses and is designed to enhance the students' practical skills and complement the lecture series. In these practical sessions experience will be gained handling live, potentially pathogenic microbes. Advanced lectures cover cutting-edge research in the field of virology in small group discussions and presentations that provide a forum for students to develop their communication and critical thinking skills. The unit will be taught by the Discipline of Microbiology within the School of Molecular Bioscience with the involvement of the Discipline of Infectious Diseases and Immunology within the Sydney Medical School.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


29 x 1-hour lectures, 7 x 4-hour practical classes, 4 x 1-hour tutorials


Pre-class assessment for practical classes: (5 x 1%), continuous assessment for practical classes: (3 x 2%), project assessment for practical classes: (7%), individual presentation on virology-themed research literature: (7%), theory of practical exam: (15%) (30 minutes), theory exam: (60%) (120 minutes)


Knipe and Howley. Fields Virology. 6th edition 2013. Available freely as an electronic resource from the University of Sydney library.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


[6cp from (BIOL1XXX, MBLGXXXX) and a mark of 75 or above in 6cp from (MICR2XXX, BCHM2XXX, BIOL2XXX, IMMU2XXX, PCOL2XXX, PHSI2XXX, GENE2XXX)] OR [BMED2401 and 6cp from BMED240X and a mark of 75 or above in 6cp from BMED2404] OR [GENE2002 and MICR2024 and a mark of 75 or above in 6cp from (GENE2002, MICR2024)] 

Assumed knowledge

Intermediate Microbiology



Additional Information

Students are very strongly advised to complete VIRO3001 or VIRO3901 before enrolling in VIRO3002 or VIRO3902.

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.